CitéSource works to contribute to research and innovation for the circular economy in the field of urban planning and construction.

Considered as a major cause of climate change and resource scarcity, cities consume more than three-quarters of materials and energy and produce more than 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Our work is based on the idea that cities are the mines of resources that are generally referred to as “waste”, but also that they serve as a huge source of reusable materials.

Our Scientific and Technical Networks

Participation in the Management Committee and the Working Group on Anthropogenic Resources from Construction & Demolition waste.

Fondation Bâtiment Energie 

du CSTB, with BRGM, Nobatek, Artelia: Participation in the research project Elaboration of criteria and indicators for the development of scientific bases for the characterization of the circular economy in the building sector.

Sustainable Building Plan

Contribution to the future French Responsible Building label, which will take consideration of the challenges of the circular economy.

Ongoing research projects


Project summary : CREATE project aims at supporting urban transformation processes towards the circular economy by making an inventory of the existing material stocks within urban construction, developing reliable scenarios for future expected material flows, and providing governance arrangements on how to approach the circular economy transition. The project will focus on the largest urban infrastructures and communal assets, namely buildings, municipal roads, water, and wastewater pipes. A truly transdisciplinary consortium will work with a mixed research design that integrates quantitative modelling with qualitative study and design of governance aspects. The project will further improve already existing, validated, and applied tools and arrangements and combine them with new digitalization technologies to inform decision-makers and enable a circular built environment. This will be achieved by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders in a co-creation process with three urban living labs and six fellow cities in five countries, which will result in numerous capacity building moments throughout the entire project. A thorough analysis of best practices of cities steering the circular economy transition together with new governance interventions will result in concrete proposals of tailored governance arrangements for the participating cities including a concrete proposal for an upscaling strategy for Europe.
CitéSource’s contribution : Within the CREATE project, CitéSource will contribute to collaborate with local communities, real estate and urban developers, as well as other consulting and research centres, to develop context specific circular economy projects and policies based on innovative assessment methods and data visualization tools. CitéSource will work on the improvement of material flows and stocks analysis and visualization methods, with a focus on bottom-up approaches with the use of GIS data. Research objectives are also to better link flows and stocks with their impacts on land use, climate change and energy resources; to further develop dynamic flows analysis to compare forecasting scenarios for decision making; and to cross-reference environmental, societal and economic criteria to better develop circular economy projects.

Key words : Urban mining, Circular economy, local governance, material stocks, buildings, urban infrastructures, digitalization technologies, 5 European countries, transdisciplinary consortium
Research Framework : JPI Urban Europe (

Partners : Chalmers University of Technology– project coordinator (Sweden), Göteborgs Stad, Kretslopp och vatten (Sweden) Austrian Institute of Technology – AIT (Autria), Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands), Municipality of Nijmegen (Netherlands), French Geological Survey -BRGM (France), BEIA Consult International (Romania), Brasov Metropolitan Agency for Sustainable Development (Romania)

Metadata - RUDI


Project summary: MetaData aims to make circular economy data (for construction materials in particular, data on material flows and stocks, uses) available at the scale of a territory accessible and exploitable by the public, professionals and third parties. The tool developed by CitéSource exploits numerous national public or access-restricted data sources to provide information on the location of buildings and their material quantity and compositions.
At the scale of the Rennes Métropole, Metadata will enrich the information on material stocks and flows with the data from the local authority (e.g. data from Climate, Air and Energy Plan – PCAET, which are rarely accessible or usable by the public). A crowdsourcing method will also be used to enrich the information on buildings and their material contents, and construction, public works sites generating wastes and demanding raw and secondary materials.

The beneficiaries of the project are multiple: local authorities in order to plan circular economy strategies; the citizens and the associations to implement circular economy projects ; the professionals of the building, construction and public works to better organize a local supply of materials.

Project framework: MetaData is financed within the framework of the Rudi project ( led by Rennes Métropole and funded by the European Union within the framework of the UIA program. This project is conducted in collaboration with 12 partners: data producers committed to an open and shared approach, associations with expertise in digital uses and collaboration, and research laboratories. RUDI’s ambition is to allow administrations, private companies, associations, and researchers in Rennes Metropole to easily access a wide variety of data to produce efficient services that respect privacy and the general interest.

MetaData project keywords: material stocks and flows, public data, circular economy, buildings, public works, territory, local actors, circular economy, crowdsourcing

RUDI partners: Rennes Métropole, Keolis, Enedis, GRDF, Ouest France…

R & D topics

Material flows analysis (on all major category of flows)

Scientific context: The quantification of the material flows mobilized by a city and a region and their environmental impacts has been the subject of continuous research since the late 1990s, which has led to the development of methods generally referred to as Material Flow Analysis (MFA). Currently, it is a scientific research subject within the industrial and territorial ecology community.

In France, scientific research in this field has been led by Sabine Barles (professor at the Geographie-Cités laboratory of the University of Paris 1) in the framework of the « CONFLUENT » projects funded by the National Research Agency (“Sustainable City” program launched in 2008-09) and “Urban Environmental imprints” of the PIRVE funded by the CNRS (French National Scientific Research Center).

In 2014, an effort to disseminate this method was supported by the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition. The latter published a guide on material flow accounting adapted to the regional scale, written by Pascale Repellin, Benoît Duret and Sabine Barles. This guide is based on scientific studies conducted by the authors on the cases of Paris, Île-de-France, Burgundy and Midi-Pyrénées regions.

Knowledge gained from previous research: The Confluent project aimed at improving the knowledge of material flows and to question the local governance of flows, i.e. to increase the knowledge of material and waste flows and to develop local approaches to industrial and territorial ecology. The scientific knowledge developed enabled us to identify issues related to urban and territorial metabolism.

CitéSource is working to contribute to the dissemination of the method for analyzing material flows on a local scale developed by Eurostat and the CGDD (2014) and to the adaptation of the method to the specific local or urban context. The Eurostat-CGDD material flow accounting method is now reaching maturity, which makes it possible to benefit from a stable analytical framework. However, the use of this method requires spatialized statistical data in order to determine import and export flows and emissions to nature, data whose availability and quality are not always sufficient, which then creates uncertainty.

Analysis of flows and stocks of building materials

Academic Partner COST MINEA Network
Corporate Partner: NeoEco

Challenge related to secondary building materials: building materials are the first materials consumed by the city after water. Built environment stocks, buildings and infrastructures, are the most important among the materials accumulated by human society (Krausmann et al., 2017). The development and renewal of cities involves a significant extraction of natural resources that are largely non-renewable and sometimes in scarcity.

In France, the energy transition for green growth law (LTECV) was published in 2015. The political commitment to develop circular economy policies in the field of construction and development has been supported since 2018 with the publication of a circular economy roadmap by the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition and then by the anti-waste law approved by the National Assembly in 2019. In particular, it has committed to ambitious goals related to the construction and demolition site waste (C&D waste) and the consumption of construction materials: 1) the gradual decoupling of economic growth from the consumption of raw materials, 2) the recycling of 55% of non-hazardous waste by 2020 and 65% by 2025, 3) the recovery of 70% of the waste from building and public works by 2020 and 5) 50% reduction of  the quantities of waste sent to landfill sites by 2025.

CitéSource is working to contribute to the
  • Development of methods for estimating stocks and flows of construction materials (bottom-up method). This involves adapting the methods developed by Augiseau 2017 and Augiseau 2018 to the scale of urban operations and construction sites in order to improve knowledge of construction material flows and stocks for better valuation.
  • Crossroads of top-down and bottom-up methods for a better knowledge of the flows in order to characterize the different flows more precisely and to avoid the black box effect of the top-down approach of the study of material flows (Eurostat Method for all flows).
  • Analysis of dynamic flows for the study of prospective scenarios for decision making

Multi-criteria analysis and secondary resource assessment and decision support tool

Challenge: Local secondary construction materials could provide economic, social and environmental benefits for local stakeholders and project owners.

The various stakeholders (community, owner and industry) need a common and comprehensive understanding to assess the availability of resources from natural and anthropogenic sources at the project level.

In particular, in order to ensure a sustainable supply of resources, it is necessary to assess the future availability of raw materials and deposits of local secondary materials that can be mobilized and their economic and environmental cost.

CitéSource is working to design the tool to define specific and quantifiable criteria to classify the different types of secondary resources in order to allow comparisons according to economic, social and environmental criteria between natural and secondary resources.